AS a City of Sanctuary, green spaces across Bradford have come together to collaborate on how they can offer a place of sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees.

Horton Community Farm, the first garden in the North of England to receive Garden of Sanctuary status, is part of the growing network of green spaces, opening up to refugees and asylum seekers.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

These green spaces hope to work together to offer opportunities to sanctuary seekers, many of whom are unable to work while they await the government's decisions on their claim.

A regular Growing Hope participant at Horton Community Farm, Saied explains: “It is very nice and I get a good feeling because it reminds me of past stories of my life before I left my country.

"It is very good, and I am very happy because I know some people and I know about their situations, and I learned something about the culture and people.

"The garden is very good for me, and I am so glad because when you see nature it gives us good feelings.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Horton Community farm wokrs wit refugees and asylum seekers. Image: Newsquest Horton Community farm wokrs wit refugees and asylum seekers. Image: Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

"It is a social meeting for me, and it is very good for me. I get the positive energy."

Another Growing Hope participant, said, with a beaming smile across her face:“I feel like I’m back home for the first time.” 

The community farm has helped one asylum seeker apply for work after she faced discrimination in the UK, despite running a successful business in her home country.

She shared her story with leaders of the Growing Hope project, highlighting the huge grief she has to carry, having lost her husband and children before moving to the UK.

Maryam and Laura, who co-run Growing Hope, a 12-week programme for sanctuary seekers, said:“Our aim is to offer a safe outdoor space in inner city Bradford for people to come as they are.

"Trust and safety are built by being in nature and using hands to grow food and tend a fire. Participants gain new skills and confidence, thrive, and open up over the three months, and wish to stay involved with the farm.

"Our sessions are cross-generational, reaching isolated individuals and families from the age of 3 to 75!

"Many of those attending our groups are survivors of trauma and are living in limbo due to the hostile asylum-seeking process and the fact they cannot work. Our sessions offer a weekly space for them to spend time outside, exercise, and connect with people from different cultures."

Joanna, from Bradford City of Sanctuary, comments:“Green spaces can play a huge part in building a welcoming and inclusive society. For sanctuary seekers, who are often not allowed to work, the opportunity to go to a garden or green space in their community can make a world of difference."